FORT KNOX, Ky. — As the sun slowly descended over Fort Knox Middle High School’s McAdams Field Sept. 17, plenty of smack talk flew on both sides about who would win the 45th annual Army Bowl football game.
Before the start of the game, Fort Knox Eagles cheerleaders held up a sign that read, “Let the feathers fly — Eagles cage the Falcons.” At the other end of the field, Fort Campbell Falcons cheerleaders held up their banner, “Hey Eagles, your mom called. You left your game at home.”
It soon became clear, however, that the Eagles’ game wasn’t at home; it was on the field. The Eagles’ Tristin Griffin took the opening kickoff all the way downfield for a touchdown, then intercepted a Falcon pass to score again – all within the first minute. A two-point conversion on the second touchdown left the Falcons buried deep in a 14-0 hole.
“Man, what a way to start!” said Eagles head coach Wes Arnold shortly after the game. “We just came out on fire and played with that energy the whole first half.”
The Eagles had come into the game with three previous losses under their belts. Arnold said they had faced three very good opponents leading up to the Army Bowl. The team was ready for some redemption.
“That made us tougher and stronger,” said Arnold. “We were ready to go. That made us the team that they were tonight.”
The Falcons tried to get back into the game after the quick deficit, but several mistakes riddled them throughout the game. Several high snaps, offside jumps on defense and false starts on offense forced a lot of lost yardage.
The Eagles defense capitalized on several errors, and the offense hammered the Falcons with a strong running game with a mix passes. They ran the score up to 28 by halftime.
“I really thought we were going to be in a dog fight all night,” said Arnold. “I thought we were very similar.”
The third quarter turned out to be the quietest of all four with neither side getting into the endzone. The scoreboard didn’t change again until just over 10 minutes left in the fourth, when another Eagles touchdown moved the number to 34.
With about five minutes left on the clock, Arnold decided to get junior varsity players some playtime.
“I wanted to do the right thing, and I wanted our young guys to get some plays,” said Arnold. “They made some plays, which was fun to see.”
Not to outdone by the varsity squad, they quickly added another six on the board. The Falcons came close to scoring twice on big open field runs, but they were never able to convert.
Arnold attributed the big win to his team and their enthusiasm.
“The fast start really helped us, and we got our confidence up right away,” said Arnold. “We were ready, and I don’t think they were, so our guys took advantage of that. That led to the snowball effect we had in the first half that kind of put the game in play.”
After the game, an official brought the Army Bowl trophy out to the 50-yard line. Eagles raised it high in celebration, relishing in getting to keep the trophy at Fort Knox another year.
Arnold told his players how proud of them he was.
“Boy that’s fun, isn’t it?”
“YEAH!” they responded.
“I’m just so proud of you. What an effort tonight,” said Arnold. “We brought it every single play, and then we finished strong. We got a little lull there in the third quarter, but we did what we had to do in the fourth and put it away.
“If we believe we can win, that’s how we play.”
Editor’s Note: For more photos of the game, go to the official Fort Knox Flickr album at the Fort Knox Flickr page.